Thursday, March 3, 2016

Scottish boys and their King

Year of the Like: Scottish Boys and their King

So as most of you might know, I have a very deep rooted and healthy love of Jensen Ackles, the actor. Our love chase has gone on for more than ten years now. He is golden, and Texan, and has the lips of Adonis. But I feel like I'm preaching to the choir.

Outside of him, most of my tastes in men come from across the pond. I have a MASSIVE thing for Scottish guys. No joke. Its Texas or Scotland or nothing. In case you don't believe me,  I've got a few hotties to the right, if you'd like to drool for a second.

I'll wait.

So this obsession with Scottish boys started when I spent a semester abroad. I studied in London and I seemed to have left my heart there because I yearn for it some days. I traveled Europe as well, but nothing could hold a candle to the boys I met in Scotland.

Now, while normal teenage girls were read Sweet Valley High and The Babysitters Club, I was knee deep in Shakespeare and read Hamlet every year since eighth grade. I'm not saying that I understood it in eighth grade, but I managed through it and was beyond elated when they actually taught it to me in school.

As you can imagine, I nearly fainted when I discovered that Hamlet was going to be part of the Fall 2000 season at Shakespeare's Globe. I remember how nervous I was, how I was so afraid that what I saw on the stage wasn't going to match what I had been reading all these years and what Kenneth Branagh had brought to life a few years earlier (I would put in a picture, but he's not Scottish. Sigh).

So one misty day,  I found myself in the Bard's playground. I took my groundling spot in the back because I am tall and I didn't want to crowd the stage. With a beat up old copy of Hamlet that I had read a million times clutched to my chest, I took in a deep breath as the first lines were uttered, "Who goes there!"

And then this little creature came upon the stage. He was not imposing. He was not blond and he certainly no means Mel Gibson. There was no castle. No fancy costumes. But I was still held spellbound.  I don't think I blinked for three hours.

This man was Hamlet.  He was amazing and brilliant and had a frailty and incredible sympathy about him. I understood things about the play that I had never picked up on in ten readings and three watchings. By the third act, I was the only one of my group not leaning against the back wall. I was transfixed.

His "fall of a sparrow" speech will be etched in my brain and I will take it with me to the next life. There was a moment during that scene where I knew that if I died, I would die happy for having been there, in the groundling section hearing the best actor on the planet say the words to my favorite scene in written in all of history.

That Scottish actor was Mark Rylance. My First Scottish boy obsession.  At the time, he was the artistic director of the Globe and doing another play at the National at the same time. I went to go see that too and was completely astounded.

It was hard to keep up the obsession as I had to come home and he was dedicated to theatre. I tried to keep tabs on him and saw every one of his movies. All four of them. And then Wolf Hall happened and I was beside myself that I could now introduce my husband to Mark. And Mark to my husband.

Sixteen years after our brief encounter in the rain, Mark Rylance won an Oscar for his performance in Bridge of Spies. Possibly one of the quietest performances of the year. And it took me a while to realize why I love him so much, why every performance that I can find haunts me. He allows you to play with him. He is quiet and doesn't rage about and yell. He is still and in that stillness, he allows his audience members to creep in closer, to listen, and to write their part of the story in his eyes and his wrinkles and how he fiddles with things.

I think it is a powerful thing about storytelling, the potential for connection. We writers are providing the words, but we can not make them come alive, we need the readers for that. It is a joint effort. He mentioned in his Oscar speech he is a fan of storytelling, and right now, Hollywood has the best storytellers. So I hope that some little future storyteller will get the inspiration that I had when he stars in this years The BFG.

So here's to you, Mark Rylance. Two thumbs up. For not only winning an Oscar, but also for making your impression on a young girl born in the wrong country. For letting her know that quiet is not wrong and there is a lasting power in stories to connect people.

Now go do it! Be the 'Like' you want to see in the world!

Amanda Arista

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